Yesterday we talked about stress eating and I suggested coming up with a plan for ways you can deal with stressful situations in the future, before mindlessly turning to food for stress relief. I even said maybe it was okay to eat a gallon of ice cream if that's what makes you feel better. A healthy lifestyle isn't only about the foods we put into our mouths; it's about overall health (body, mind, spirit, emotions) and the decisions we make regarding our overall health on a daily basis.

Many times, individuals who struggle the most when trying to eat a healthy diet are the ones who have other aspects of their lives keeping them from attaining the healthy lifestyle they're desiring so much. For them, working on their diet may not be the best approach to overall health. If eating something we know is healthy for our bodies, something we know looks and tastes great, is difficult to do then there's something bigger going on in our lives than just food. If that's the case, it's important to figure out what's going on.

In a recent post, I answered part of a message I received from Violet, one of our blog readers. Below is the continuation of my response to Violet (much briefer than my last one!).

Following my response to Violet is a response to Sarah, who has a fantastic raw food blog that I enjoy reading.

Violet's message continued:

All this week we're going to be highlighting different sections of the All Raw Directory (A.R.D.). For those of you who don't already know about it, Jim and I created an amazing site (AllRawDirectory.com) to house links to every source of raw food information that exists on the Internet. It's a huge task, but we created the site so that it's community-run. Housing links to all of the information available within the raw food community is a near-impossible task for one individual, but as a group we can do amazing things!

If you don't know how the All Raw Directory works, you are going to love the ease and simplicity of it all! Simply become a member (it's FREE and always will be!) and begin adding any raw food links that aren't already included (the system checks for duplicates, so don't worry about that). You can add your personal raw food blog, a raw food business, your social raw food media links (like Twitter, Facebook, GiveItToMeRaw, RawFu, etc.) for others to easily find you, share links to informative pages about the raw food diet/lifestyle, and so much more!

Jim here... Sorry for being away for so long. We've got SO much going on these days, it's mind-boggling! More on that later, as I have something in mind already for today...I should start by clarifying that I've been basically raw for almost 4 years now (high-raw, you might say). During the first nearly-two years, I still ate meat from time to time. Actually, I still ate (and drank) almost everything from time to time -- sugars, processed foods, alcohol, you name it -- only less than I did before, and within the context of a dietary intake consisting of a significantly higher percentage of living foods. In those early years, I'd estimate I was averaging 75-90% raw. Not bad ... I definitely experienced improvements in my health!

The big change in consciousness didn't follow until two years ago. (This is an interesting point because, as you can see, I wasn't "ready" for a bigger change for two years into eating a lot of raw foods!) I suppose the difference was that, during the early years, I was pretty much raw by default rather than by conscious decision. As Jules said in Pulp Fiction, "... my girlfriend's a vegetarian. ?Which more or less makes me a vegetarian..." Yeah, that was my case back then, too, although I certainly grew into it (and am thankful that I did).

A partial group picture from the retreat.

The 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat was a success! All my time and effort that went into creating the event was well worth the experience. When Leela Mata and I discussed a possible raw food retreat about a year ago, I had no idea how to go about creating such an event. I have never done anything like this, so I approached it by asking myself: "What would I want if I was attending a raw food spiritual retreat " From there, I created a retreat that I would love to attend, myself. In fact, when it was completely organized and guests began signing up, I wished that an identical event existed that I really could take part in, as well!

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Jim here... Of the many lessons 2008 brought to our household, one standout was certainly the importance of having patience. That s because we set some lofty goals, and lofty goals are often vital teachers.

For example, imagine sitting in your living room one day and deciding: "I'm going to scale Mt. Everest."? (For the purposes of this example, imagine also that no political, administrative, or financial restrictions exist to prevent you from doing this immediately if you really wanted to -- things like passports, entry visas, transportation costs, etc.)

Jim here again... What do you think of that montage of vintage cigarette advertisements ! Knowing what we now know about cigarettes, it's tough to believe that such ads could have existed only 50 years ago, but the campaigns were real. Did doctors actually see no harm in cigarettes? Were there no pulmonary specialists back then who thought that habitually inhaling smoke might not be such a healthy idea Who knows... ?As I like to believe when it comes to doctors, even though they're quite oblivious to the harmful effects that chemicals have on our bodies, they do seem to mean well (in their own deluded ways). So, I don't hold it against them so much as I now hold it against individuals to think for themselves and challenge healthcare practitioners.

In any case, whether or not there is an advertising campaign attached to a new consumer product, it stands to reason that when a product is introduced into the marketplace, manufacturers should have a responsibility to ensure that the product is safe, and consumers should likewise have a reasonable expectation that the product is safe. Only, it doesn't always work that way, does it?

Last night, we watched a movie called Barney's Version which, among many other things, touched on the issue of Alzheimer's (or dementia). (It also touched on the issue of painfully awful movie titles, in my opinion.) But, I have to admit: Movies like that (or, even being around people affected by this) cause me to seriously look at my own life and reflect upon how I might be doing in terms of preventing not just Alzheimer's, but all major diseases.

My grandmother had severe dementia, and we witnessed the full progression of this awful condition for many years. I felt awful for her and readily admit that it scared the hell out of me to know that a formerly sharp, witty human being could end up this way. If you've never been around it, trust me: You do not want this for yourself or anyone.

This weekend is Mother's Day, so today's Thankful Thursday is dedicated to the memory of my own mother, Elizabeth.

We've spent some time on this blog talking about how much fun you can have via the meetup.com web site. If you search that site, you can probably find raw food meetups near you!? But, a few readers have asked us some follow-ups, such as What should I bring and What should I do if I'd like to host a raw foods meetup

*Attending* Raw Foods Meetups

Okay, so you signed up for a raw foods meetup group, waited patiently for the next event to come round, and now it's time!? But, wait... this is your first such outing. What should you bring

Here's an update from Wendi. I think this can be considered, with 99% confidence, the big announcement:

Of course, there's that 1% chance that something unexpected will happen. But, Portland feels right. It always has for us; we nearly moved there in the late 1990s. We had books on Portland back then, and I was buying their newspaper each week to hunt for jobs. It just never panned out, though. I suppose we were meant to live in Pittsburgh for a spell. It would be easy for me to list many reasons why Pittsburgh served a purpose for us. But, yeah, I think we're Portlanders at heart. So much about that city resonates with us. It'll be a homecoming, for sure! I want to reiterate a few things that I'd written in comments recently, slightly clarified in places.